Redefining Business For Good – Corporate Social Responsibility in the Era of COVID-19

At A Glance

2020 will be defined by the coronavirus. The history of pandemics demonstrates that its ripple throughout global populations leaves societies fundamentally changed. Those in positions of power are working around the clock to balance the health crisis with the economic depression that will follow in close pursuit.  

It is no longer businesses as usual as organisations have had to pivot their business models. There is no doubt companies will be judged in the decades to come on how they have bettered the world, their customers, suppliers and employees during this time.

Across all industries, COVID-19 is redefining what business for good truly means and I would argue a new era of corporate social responsibility is on the horizon. Readjusting to this new world order provides a perfect opportunity to do capitalism differently.  
Whether you are a multinational luxury conglomerate like LVMH, an innovative tech start-up or artisan supplier, wearing your values on your sleeve has never been so attractive.

Having studied corporate social responsibility in depth during my MSc, its history can be traced from the 1950’s as corporate philanthropy to philanthropic responsibility, traditional CSR and is now beholden to the notion of a corporate shared value between all stakeholders.

As the virus disrupts industries and supply chains, I have provided a host of my favourite examples of how companies are redefining corporate social responsibility. Whether it’s monetary donations, mental health support, launching dedicated global funds or unlimited unpaid sick leave, these inspiring and uplifting actions demonstrate how we can use business as a force for good in the long term.

Corporate Social Responsibility During the Era of COVID-19

The list is by no means definitive but here are some of my favourite initiatives leading the charge:

  • LVMH – put their best foot forward turning their perfume production facilities into hand sanitiser factories! The French conglomerate also secured an order of 10 million masks last month which were distributed in France. They are repeating their orders, brining over 40 million masks to the country.

A note on hand sanitiser – so many others that have followed in suit including: Clarins, Coty (who are also donating medical kits) and Scottish ale company Brewdog!

A note on hand soaps/creams – beauty and lifestyle brands such as The Body Shop and L’Occaitaine are donating to hospitals around the UK.  

  • Beauty Banks – is the people-powered movement that supports people living in hygiene poverty in the UK. They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to support those who can’t afford to take extra precautions to help keep them safe from what has been labelled ‘the worst public health crisis for a generation’, coronavirus (COVID-19). Read more here.
  • Birdsong – this firm sustainable favourite hailing from East London pride themselves on creating a living wage job for their makers. Whilst their production has paused to keep the hands that make our clothes safe, they have created a patron membership, where you can donate a specific amount a month to contribute towards their makers emergency fund to support them during this time. You can find a link here.
  • Net-A Porter & Mr Porter – donated their premier delivery vans to Age UK to support the elderly in isolation with essential supplies. They have now also extended this to communities in Hong Kong and Milan. NB – Organisations are providing their transportation to those that need it most, Sports Direct CEO Mike Ashley has offered his fleet of lorries to the NHS.
  • Moncler – doing more than keeping us warm. Moncler is a driving force in Italy and donated almost $11 million to build a new hospital for coronavirus patients in Milan. The hospital will have 400 intensive care units to help those infected.
  • Prada – Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, the CEO of Prada, came to the region’s aid by donating two full intensive care and resuscitation units each to three Milanese hospitals.
  • Claridge’s – the infamous London hotel has opened its doors to NHS staff putting guests in rooms that usually cost £650. They have been providing breakfast and dinners for the key workers!
  • UK Food chains – from free drinks, to half priced meals and delivering food to hospitals, the UK food and beverage to-go industry are feeding the front line. The list is extensive but include Pret, Greggs, Pauls, Starbucks, Leon, Itsu, Dominoes, Black Sheep Coffee & Nandoes.
  • Everlane – the sustainable clothing brand has pledged to donate 100% of profits from its 100% Human collection to Feeding America.
  • Toad & Co – the multi-branded retailer that specialises in sustainable apparel launched a programme to share 30% of its revenue from new customers’ online purchases with independent specialty retailers that sell its clothing.
  • Jack Dorsey – the co-founder of Twitter donated $1 billion of his square equity (28% of his wealth) to fund global virus relief. Excitingly, when the situation abates, the fund will shift to focus on girl’s health, education, and a universal basic income.
  • Honest – Jessica Alba’s company are donating 3 million diapers, 30,000 packs of wipes and 20,000 personal care items and providing large quantities of these to charitable organisation Baby 2 Baby.
  • Ebay – launched an accelerator programme for small businesses. The aim is to help brick-and mortar retailers take their trading online. They have pledged up to $100 million in support of small businesses across North America over the next three months.

TIP: If you want to dig deeper into a company’s commitment to sustainability or corporate social responsibility, visit their corporate website and read up on their annual reports. Be warned that many do not disclose all information but it is insightful!

If you enjoyed this article, read my feature on why it pays to be green and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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3 thoughts on “Redefining Business For Good – Corporate Social Responsibility in the Era of COVID-19

  1. Hello! Thank you for this very insightful article and for the wonderful work that you guys are doing with this website. I think it’s really important to share awareness, fostering innovation and positivity and trying to spot new ways of creating a sustainable global economy. And this is all the more true when you do it with effort and quality, as it’s the case for you. Thank you again and good luck for what I hope will be a bright future.

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